Odebrecht bribes passed through Maduro’s hands

As if it were a novel series, the biggest corruption plot from Brazil involves a senior Venezuelan official, nothing less than the national head of state. But the Prosecutor's Office is silent. Although distanced from the government, Luisa Ortega Díaz ignored the issue, despite the fact that her counterparts had already notified her about the case.

12 May 2017

Nicolás Maduro himself handed over US$ 11 million under the table for the last re-election campaign of former President Hugo Chávez. The famous Brazilian publicists, Joao Santana and Mónica Moura, had already warned that the Lava Jato case involved Chavismo's electoral financing, but their statements - filtered yesterday by the Brazilian justice - go further now; they involve the Venezuelan president in the lava jato case, the biggest corruption plot that involves all Latin American countries.

In exchange for procedural benefits, last year’s February publicist Joao Santana —the brain of Chávez's electoral campaigns, among other Latin American leaders— confessed with his wife, Mónica Moura, that they charged US$ 35 million to develop the electoral propaganda of the deceased President Chávez. Back then it was already a scandal that the campaign was run by the Brazilian giant Odebrecht in exchange for special contracts. But there is more now of what has been a novel series. The Brazilian justice said that the publicists warned in their statements that the irregular payments also involved the then Venezuelan chancellor, Nicolás Maduro.

“Maduro received Mónica in his office, gave her briefcases of money and provided an escort "

Two Brazilian constructors contributed 12 out of the 35 million U.S. dollars of the publicists: Odebrecht transferred $ 7 million while Andrade Gutiérrez deposited another $ 5 million in a Swiss account through the front company Shellbill Finance SA. There were 12 million that were owed of which there are no details, while the remaining 11 million came out in cash from the Venezuelan Chancery. "Maduro received Mónica in his office, gave her briefcases of money and provided an escort for security during the trip from the chancery to the producer," as indicated in the documents that the Supreme Court of Brazil recently declassified.

This is the first time that a senior Venezuelan official appears in the corruption plot of the so-called Lava Jato operation, and it is nothing less than the head of state of the nation. The Peruvian justice imputed former presidents Ollanta Humala and Alejandro Toledo, while there have been reports in the rest of the region that splash presidents, from Colombia’s Álvaro Uribe and Panama’s Ricardo Martinelli to the current presidents of Argentina, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Panama: Mauricio Macri, Danilo Medina, Juan Manuel Santos and Juan Carlos Valera, respectively.

In Venezuela, the Public Prosecutor's Office has not pronounced itself despite the fact that the Brazilian Attorney General's Office submitted the information through regular channels, as recorded in the minutes of file No. 105118/2017, published yesterday with the signature of its top holder, Rodrigo Janiot. Although the Prosecutor of the Republic, Luisa Ortega Díaz, has distanced herself from Maduro's government, she has never charged him or any other official with the corruption of Odebrecht and the other contractors who paid bribes in exchange for the best contracts. She did not do it in February, after traveling to Brasilia to meet with those in charge of investigating the case, and she has not done so in these days in which she has denounce a rupture of the constitutional thread in Venezuela.

Maximilien Arveláiz was " Hugo Chávez main articulator and guarantor in Brazil".

However, the story should have arrived in her office long before yesterday, when she finally warned how the illegal financing of Chavez's last campaign began. Lula was the first to ask publicist Joao Santana to develop the reelection campaign of his comrade Chávez , for which he involved one of his closest collaborators, minister José Dirceu, and the Venezuela’s ambassador in Brasilia, Maximilien Arveláiz, today turned into a Hollywood producer with the film of Snowden, whom Moura pointed out as " Hugo Chávez main articulator and guarantor in Brazil. "

Weeks later, they met in Caracas, in Palacio de Miraflores (the presidential residence), where they closed a business of which no proofs should exist. Moura said, "Chancellor Nicolás Maduro demanded that most of the payments related to the campaign be received as undeclared resources." He should never have thought that the then advisors and publicists would become the informers five years later.

(*) This is an issue of the network of structured journalists, who covered and published simultaneously in IDL-Reporteros, in Peru, La Prensa de Panamá, and Armando.info in Venezuela.

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